The Procrastinators Club
I think it began with Cindy, the clerk at a favorite quilt shop, her face twisted in a frown, her complaint the past five minutes as she cut our fabric about her not getting her own quilt finished.
"Why not?" asked the red-headed woman in front of us.
"I haven't had a chance to start it yet," she said.
'Why not?" I asked. If I have to wait, which I do well when my Darling Wife is shopping for just one more item for her new quilt, then I'm going to join in any conversation that might make this trip to the quilt shop go by faster. It was hot in the shop, and it was cool outside where an ocean breeze offered some comfort from the heat spell. But I was inside listening.
Cindy looked at me. "I looked back. "I've been cleaning out my cupboards. It's taking forever, and if I don't get them clean I won't have room for the fabric I need to store so that once I begin the quilt I don't have to worry about not having enough fabric at hand."
"I've used that excuse before," Melanie said. Melanie wore a small badge that said "Melanie." She worked at the next-door bakery.
"Yes, that's an old excuse," I said. "You know people will tell you you're just procrastinating and that you should get some empty boxes or use the bathtub for storage and get to work. Quilters always say it's all right to be dirty if you're in the middle of a quilt, which you're not because you haven't even begun yet." At least, my friendly quilting wife said that when she was dirty.
Melanie looked at me. I expected a look. Though I was no stranger to the quilt shop, I was not a quilter, and I had been told that some discussions are only for quilters. "He's right," said Debby. Debby also had a name badge on her blouse, pinned above a pocket, but her badge also said, "Volunteer," and she helped out a nearby preschool. "I haven't quilted the quilt I'm working on, but it's marked and just waiting for me, but I have to teach the world to sing first," she said.
"The kids can do without another song. You should finish the quilt," a disembodied voice whispered from behind a stack of bagged batting. "If you're not going to quilt, you need to have a better excuse."
"There's an art to procrastinating, Cindy said. "I can tell you I've heard some of the weirdest reasons for not quilting."
"Maybe we should have a club or a guild for procrastinators."
"Who said that?" I asked. But, of course I recognized the voice of my Darling Wife. She had put the bolt of fabric she had chosen onto the cutting table and rubbed at her forearms to get the creases out from her skin where she had held the heavy bolt too close to her body so no one would take it from her. She wanted that fabric.
"My cousin Sharon has been wanting to quilt for years now, but whenever she gets an idea for a quilt she decides to think about it for awhile, and she has a glass of wine. But before she finishes the wine, she forgets what quilting is." That came from Debby.
"I used to take a shower before I sat down to quilt, but then I felt so clean, I didn't want to lint up my body with threads. So I kept myself very clean, but I didn't get a quilt done for three years."
"Does labor count?" asked a slim woman dressed all in yellow pushing a stroller down the aisle toward us. We all turned to her voice. "I was in the middle of a stipple, only five minutes from the last curve around the border when the contractions started and the baby began kicking so hard that I was pushed back away from the sewing machine. I tried to reach the pedal to sew the last few stitches, but the baby-my baby wanted out." We all looked down at the stroller, but there was no baby there. The stroller was full of notions and a roll of fusible webbing.
"That's not really procrastination," said a stern voice, the owner of the voice bent over the stroller, no doubt wondering whether the woman had given birth to a baby or quilting supplies.
"You didn't have a choice," said I, hoping that her membership in this new group would be allowed.
"You weren't trying to avoid quilting," said a sharp but friendly voice sneaking out from behind the other women.
"Maybe she got pregnant so she wouldn't have to finish the quilt," said the clerk who was not bagging spools of thread when she should have been.
"No, she probably got pregnant to motivate her to finish the quilt before the nine months were up. Was there a deadline in mind?" she asked the slim woman with the stroller.
"I started the baby before I started the quilt," said the new mother.
"That should count," said my empathic wife.
"All right, she's in," said someone, but I had no idea who or where she was. "But I didn't go to that extreme. I had no project in mind when my forty-two year old son, who put off getting married all of his life, even though he had been engaged for three years to the same woman, that romatically lazy son finally said he was getting married and wanted his wife to have a wedding rings quilt."
"Did you make your lazy bachelor son the quilt?" a young woman with Pippi-Longstocking-style pigtails asked. "Was he afraid to commit to his fiancée?"
"I told him I'd begin the quilt when he showed me a marriage license, but I wasn't really in the mood to make a wedding rings quilt." She looked around at all of us, one after another, face to face. "I don't do curves very well," she explained.
"Tell her your story, Rose," someone said to Rose who was taller than all the rest of us and could see over our heads.
"I began a quilt," said a tall Rose, "one I wanted to do for years. I had all the fabric bought and some beautiful ivory muslin for the backing, but then the new season of Desperate Housewives came on television, and how could I keep on quilting until I knew what happened next? I was too anxious to even think about quilting with so much going on in the show. I started a Desperate Wives discussion group, so I haven't gotten back to the quilt yet. I hope the show ends this season so I can get around to finishing the quilt. If it goes on again next season, I'm lost."
"We understand," said a woman next to her who gave her a hug of understanding.
"I'm procrastinating now," said a man who had come up behind us. He wore a blue baseball cap with an emblem that read, "Old Timer."
"Hi, Old Timer," I said. "What should you be doing now that you're not doing by doing something else instead?"
"My wife sent me to buy four yards of blue Bali batik, but I've been looking at a new large screen television sets in the video store down the street all afternoon, and my wife will drop me on my head if I don't bring back some blue batik."
"You should buy the fabric," Cindy, the clerk said helpfully and protectively.
"I'm stuck," he said. "I can't decide."
"Hoffman is good," Cindy said, "but it's your choice."
"I was thinking either a forty-six-inch plasma or a fifty-inch rear-projection set."
"Shouldn't you be thinking about fabric," said Tall Rose.
"I have to do that next, I think," he said.
"I'll have someone show you the batiks."
"She wrote down the name of the fabric she wants," he said. "It has to be exactly that or she can't begin to quilt." He pulled a rumpled slip of paper out of his shirt pocket. " No, this is the size of the space we have for the television set." He looked some more, found the correct paper, waved it, and was soon on his way.
"No television gets in the way of our quilting," said a pair of twins who had joined us. They spoke in unison. Though the two women dressed differently, they were so obviously identical twins no one would doubt them.
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next month," one of the twins said. "If it doesn't have to be done in a week, it can be done next month," said the other. "We've never finished a quilt," they both said together.
Maybe it was a dream. I blinked several times to be sure I saw the two of them. I rubbed my ears and snapped my fingers to check my hearing. Around me, everyone else was doing the same.
"Are you quilters?" a voice asked. It could have been everyone's voice.
"We want to be, but we never get around to it. We have everything we need to begin, but there are so many other things to do, aren't there?" she asked all of us, sincerely I'm sure.
"We lead busy lives," my wife said after she finished blinking her eyes.
"I think I have a quilt waiting at home," one woman said.
"I think I have a quilt waiting at home," said another.
"I'm just going to pay for this and finish the square I started last month," said a third.
"My husband will be surprised to find me at the sewing machine," said a fourth.
"She who hesitates is lost."
"Me too. It's for my cousin's new baby. She was born two years ago and probably needs the quilt right away.
"I can finish cleaning up the flood on my kitchen floor from the broken dishwasher later. I should finish the quilt instead when I get home."
"What's a few inches more of dust on the kitchen table? I should do the border now."
"No more procrastinating."
When we arrived home from the shop, my Darling Quilter left it to me to empty the car of everything she had bought, and she went straight to her sewing room to start her new African quilt. You never catch her putting things off to another day. Never.
Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver
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